||Issue No. 138||31 May 2002|
Interview: The Star Chamber
Politics: The Odd Couple
Media: Audiences Before Politics
International: The Off-Side Rule
Economics: The Fake Persuaders
History: Terror Tactics
Poetry: Food, Modified Food
Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
The Locker Room
Week in Review
In Defence of Latham
Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
Letters to the Editor
In Defence of Latham
The recent letter from Tom Collins regarding Mark Latham appears to reflect much of the pointless sloganeering that characterises many of Mr Latham's enemies, whether they be old-fashioned Stalinists, wimminists, public sector ideologues, or basket-weaving greenies. It is not Mr Collins that I primarily take issue with - his letter is a drop in the ocean - it is the hysteria and brainlessness of the broad coalition of apparatchiks who are making a comfortable career out of opposing anything Mr Latham does.
It is unfortunate that there are the usual wild accusations, "rejecting blue collar workers", "belonging in the Howard Government", all of the lines that the Socialist Left tend to feed to their acolytes to keep them content and well within their comfort zone. It is usually the way of the cynical opportunists that they are happy to use old slogans to attack any kind of original thought, without coming up with any sort of viable alternative (excluding the usual calls to increase the size of the public sector).
Everytime Mr Latham proposes some policy or other, there will be guarded support in The Australian (a brainless publication in itself which is the capture of Tory sloganeers), and another round of Latham bashing by the vested interests that he seems to offend. Indeed, the cries of the ill-defined "economic rationalism", are just a convenient way to drop one's obligation as a party of government to implement rational economic policy. If keeping a budget surplus, keeping down interest rates and inflation, implementing microeconomic reform (which has our multifactor productivity growth at 2.5% a year), and generally allowing people to go about their business is "economic rationalism", then let us be economic rationalists. It has been a long time since I've heard anyone actually say "government knows what's best for society and individuals", because it is evidently not true. It is often the vested interests in the public sector and the universities, who have the most to lose fro!
m anyone who demands accountability. Hence the hypocritical cries of "neo-liberal" when someone tries to go about doing that.
Labor has two choices. It can go back to the silly ideas of re-regulation, stifling protectionism, a permanent budget deficit, and a no-obligation welfare state. This sort of rubbish will keep us out of office for the rest of human history. As romantic as it may seem running with socialism's false vow of "equality of outcome", it's simply not the stuff of grown-ups. Why do people insist on pandering to the lunatic fringes of society?
The other choice is to move on. To embrace the idea of "equality of opportunity", to acknowledge that people have aspirations and thus don't want to be "the same" as everyone else, to understand that there are limits to what a government can acheive, to foster civil society. When Mark Latham talks of "social capital", instead of bagging him out (as the philosophically-challenged do), why not try to engage with his argument? Does anyone really believe that the majority of working people actually like Government bureaucracies?
It is frightening to see how close we are to losing our mind and confining ourselves to irrelevance (as was so easily achieved during the 50s and 60s), simply because it all just seems to difficult to actually find out what people are thinking about in the suburbs, and in rural Australia.
The sooner the Labor Party encourages a culture where people (especially the youth) are encouraged to think calmly and sensibly about rational and responsible public policy (rather than encouraging misguided "idealism" as a substitute for policy), the sooner we are likely to regain office from the real opposition: not Mark Latham, but the Howard Government.
Steve Murray Edwards
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|